Explore Japan Locals

Explore a wide variety of Japanese products born out of Japan's unique geography, diverse climates, and rich history. Find your own local gems.

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Sabae, Fukui Prefecture   Fukui Sabae – Mecca of glasses   The city of Sabae, despite being a lesser known destination, is situated in Fukui prefecture, a region steeped in the production of traditional Japanese craft such as textiles, lacquerware, pottery and Japanese washi paper. Above all, it prides itself as a sacred place for eyeglasses. With its overwhelmingly huge share of 95% in the manufacturing of MADE in Japan eyeglass frames, eyeglasses have come to be a defining feature for the city’s image. In various locations around the townscape, there are eyeglass motifs aplenty. Sabae holds an esteemed reputation in eyeglasses. This makes uncovering its gems all the more fun.         Eishindo – Fukui sweets and novelty ice cream   Located in the Honmachi-district adjacent to JR Sabae Station is Eishindo, a rustic confectionery shop, dedicated to creating local flavours and simply gratifying people who eat them. While there is a wide selection of cakes and many other individually wrapped Japanese and Western confectionaries, what stands out is the hand-made novelty ice cream exclusive to this shop. Like other localities in Japan, inventing and incorporating local flavours into ice cream was also carried out at Eishindo. The Grated Daikon (Radish) Soba flavour – Frozen grated radish atop a rich soba-flavoured ice cream, refreshingly sweet. The Sauce Katsu-don (Japanese cutlet rice) flavour – Topped off with breadcrumbs, the base ice cream is mildly reminiscent of the sweet sauce. What might have been a distasteful mismatch turn out to be quite delectable.         Sushi restaurant Isami-zushi – Exquisite cuisine with local hospitality A visit to Sabae would be incomplete without having a taste of Echizen crab, a well-known winter delicacy of neighbouring town Echizen. The only place to savour Echizen crab in Sabae is Isami-zushi, a sushi restaurant established for more than 90 years, currently run by 3 rd generation owner Sasaki. Isami-zushi can be reached from JR Sabae Station in just a 5 minutes’ walk. It is a designated shop for genuine Echizen crab hauled up off the Echizen coast by the Echizen Fisheries Association. Isami-zushi serves a crab dish, prepared by boiling, known as sekogani. Female crabs costs from about 2,000 to 5,000 yen while male crabs are significantly more expensive. The price ranges from 10,000 to 100,000 yen, depending on the size. With prior reservation, you can also witness the entire preparation process of the crab carried out by Sasaki-san himself.         Glasses Museum (Megane Museum) – A testimony of Japan’s eyewear craftmanship excellence   Visitors seeking to find out more the rich history of eyeglasses would definitely be fascinated at the exhibition of antiquated eyeglasses here at the Megane Museum. The changes in design over time, from round eyeglasses, to eyeglasses that are secured with strings and eyeglasses that grips onto the temples of the forehead, dubbed the “Zutsuosae-megane”, are displayed at the Megane Museum with detailed explanation by a guide. There is also a section which guides visitors step by step through the incredibly labour-intensive manufacturing processes in the past.   One reason the glasses industry began to flourish in Fukui is that snowy winters and the agricultural economy meant that farmers can improve their livelihood with glasses craftmanship. It was in Fukui where the world’s first light and durable Titanium frame was developed in 1983.   There is also an in-house glasses shop, the Glass Gallery 291, which has a branch in Minami Aoyama, Tokyo. There are about 3000 pairs of glasses displayed for sale, all independently developed and manufactured by approximately 45 companies, of which there are 130 over brands.   It is possible for visitors to visit and buy a frame of their preference at this museum, then have the lenses fitted at their nearby optician. This might be an option for keen foreign buyers without sufficient Japanese language proficiency.       Access Sabae is located near the Sea of Japan.   To get there from Tokyo, take a Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train to Maibara, and transfer to a limited express train. It takes about 3 hours 30 minutes in total. From Osaka, a limited express train “Thunderbird” will take you in about 3 hours.     For further information, please refer to the following websites.   Megane Museum Official Website (English Available)   https://www.megane.gr.jp/museum/   Fukui Sweets Eishindo (Japanese only)   http://www.eishindo.jp/   Sushi Shop Isami-zushi (Japanese only)   http://osushi.jp/      
Minoh Park What comes to your mind when someone mentions Osaka? Mouth-watering Takoyaki? Or maybe deliciously seasoned kushikatsu? Indeed, being called “ Tenka no Daidokoro ” (The kitchen of the world) since the ancient times, Osaka is well known for its gourmet street food. Yet unknown to many, Osaka is also host to many wonderful natural beauties. Located in the northern part of Osaka lies Minoh Park, well known for its wonderful autumn leaves and majestic waterfall.   Just 400m from the Hakyuu Minoh station, Minoh Park is voted as one of the top 100 places to go for forest therapy. Near to the quaint historic town of Minoh, the road to the Park from the station is filled with nostalgic shop houses. There is also an onsen (hot spring) for those who wants to rejuvenate themselves after a weary travel.     Entering the park, one is immediately embraced by a twining stream surrounded by maple trees. Minoh Park is famous for being a place of fun for all four seasons. Spring for the fresh verdure, summer for escaping the heat, autumn for the awesome red leaves viewing and winter for hikes. There are many paths to choose such as the regular path to the famous waterfall or the hiking path for mountain lovers.   Despite being a path uphill, the path is well paved such that it is not too daunting for one to take. The sceneries along the way makes the walk really enjoyable. There are also many shops that sells refreshments and souvenirs, so if you are hungry or you want something to remember the trip, you can make a brief stop.   One local food to try in Minoh Park is the famous Momiji Tempura (Red-leaves Tempura).   It is usually sold in packets, and can be purchased at almost every single shop in the park. Dried Maple leaves are coated with batter and fried to perfection, finishing off with a sprinkle of black sesame. The black sesame leaves an aromatic aftertaste in your mouth, and it goes really well with the crispy batter. This delightful snack is bound to make you longing for more.     If you think that the only thing that you can do in the park is to take a walk, you are in for a surprise. The park also has an insect museum, showcasing insects native to the Minoh area. Insects lovers are bound to love this place. There is also a free ashiyu (footbath) besides the museum, so you can take a short break here if you like. Rest houses are also available along the way, so you can always recharge before continuing your journey.   Once you reached the end of the path, you will see the famous Minoh Waterfall. Majestic streams of water pour down into a clear stream. There are benches near the waterfall, so you can actually sit down and enjoy the sceneries if you are lucky enough to grab a seat. With souvenirs shop and various food stalls nearby, you can end your trip to Minoh Park with a happy note.   Visit the official Japanese site here: http://www.mino-park.jp/    
Otaru – A Historical and Beautiful Town Northwest of Sapporo City, Otaru is best known as a city rich in history and scenic beauties. It takes about 30 minutes to reach by car from Sapporo and is easily accessible by both highway bus and train.       Glass Making     One of the must-sees when in Otaru is definitely the many stores selling beautifully crafted glassware. From the Meiji to the Taisho era of Japan, the people of Otaru had to use oil lamps and floating balls, both made of glass, to lead their ordinary lives, and this made the glass-making industry in the area very prosperous.     The streets of Otaru are lined with shops and craft studios making and selling a wide variety of glassware, from dining utensils to jewelry. Don’t forget to also try out making your own glassware from scratch in one of these stores! You can also choose to make small accessories as a gift to your loved ones, such as in the photographs above.         Otaru Canal   As a port city, Otaru is perhaps also known for its thriving shipping and fishing industry. The Otaru Canal, once crucial to the city, is now a popular tourist spot, offering visitors the opportunity to take beautiful Instagrammable photos. You can also ride a boat along the canal and enjoy the views of Otaru to the fullest.         Local Delicacies   Otaru cannot be called a port city without the local seafood delicacies. Do head down to one of the many restaurants along the main street which offer the freshest catch of the day.         Otaru Music Box Museum   The Otaru Music Box Museum is also one of the must-sees in Otaru. Located inside an antiquated building at the end of the main street, this museum houses thousands of music boxes, each with a different melody that is simply pleasing to the ear. There are several special exhibitions on music boxes as well, so do check them out!   If you need further information of Otaru, do check out the link below: https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/regional/hokkaido/otaru.html         
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